A blinking red light is all I could see in the dark accompanied by an annoying monotonous beep.
Where am I?
My brain was throbbing like timpani in an orchestra as I made it up onto my feet. My eyes adjusting to the darkness, I could just make out a table upon which the blinking light resided. Close by, green numbers glared, 02:59 it read. Seconds later a shrilling sound blared from the clock as it changed to 03:00. I fumbled to turn it off, by then, a bright white light shone over the bare wooden table revealing a silver briefcase which held the blinking red light. I moved closer to get a better look. The blinking light was next to a timer that counted down by the second. My heart galloped as the adrenaline rushed through my veins.
A BOMB! I need to get out of here!
I examined the walls of the room slick with white paint. I bolted to what a steel door, pounding my fists onto it.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
A voice over my head sent my body across the floor.
“Who’s there? Can you hear me?” I scrambled to my feet, staring at the speakers as though they were my savior.
“Oh, thank God!” a high pitched voice choked with tears responded. “I thought I was going mad.”
“What’s going on here!?”
“I’m not sure…but I think we’ve got ourselves in a bomb-like situation!” the shudder in her voice full of fear.
“Ooh, there is a bomb in here with me alright…” I peered over my shoulder dreading the words coming out of my mouth.
“Oh my! How much time do we have?”
I really wished her voice was steady…
I shuffled towards the table, my heart jumping in my throat.
“The timer is a little over 4 minutes.”
“Oh my God! O.K., don’t panic,” she said, trying to assure herself more than anyone else.
“Easier said than done.” I scoffed. I heard a ruffle of pages.
“Well … there’s a manual I found next to me when I woke up. It says if we succeed in defusing the bomb, the door will open.” A tinge of hope fluttered through the speakers … finally!
“And if we don’t?” my fingers searching for an imaginary itch on my shoulder.
“I… I guess we die then.”
I ran my fingers through my hair nearly tearing it out.
“Oh God! What does this “manual”, tell you?” I said, beads of sweat forming over my brow.
“Well, it has a bunch of instructions. You need to tell me what the bomb looks like and I will give you the instructions to defuse it.”
“Can’t you just tell me what to do?”
“Well, I can’t see you or the bomb, I can only hear you.”
I locked my fingers behind my head, puffing out my frustration.
What have I done to deserve this!?
“Are you still there?” The voice resounded over the slow ticking of the bomb.
“Where else would I be? Let’s do it.” I place my hands over my trembling knees as I examined the case.
“Tell me what you see.” said the voice, with a tinge of a commanding note.
“Three panels, one with wires, one with a big button and one with four buttons.”
“Let’s start with the wires. How many wires are there?”
Two … four … five
“Uh huh, any red wires?”
“Yes, there are three red wires”
“O.K. … What color is the last wire?”
Moments past in silence only filled with the beeping of the timer counting down.
“Pull out the second wire.”
“Are you sure?” Hesitation brewing in my heart.
“Positive.” Her voice filled with certainty.
I held my breath, as I grabbed the second wire and yanked it out of place. Relief below over me when a small light turned green.
“Still in one piece.” I flicked the wire away.
“Fantastic, for the big button I need you to find a serial number.” The fear in her tone vanished in the mist of commands.
I tilted my head left and right, walked around the table to the other side, nothing.
“I can’t see anything.” Shrugging my shoulders
“Hmmm, maybe it’s on the bottom, have you tried lifting it?”
“It’s the ONLY way.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose, my shirt soaking with the sweat from my body.
“Listen, I know you’re terrified, but you need to be brave.”
“What if it goes off?” I stare at the speakers waiting to hear another suggestion.
“Then at least we died trying to get out. Don’t give up on me!”
Her desperation fueled my courage, our lives depended on me looking beneath that damn case. My hands trembled as I held either side of the case.
Alright now, carefully lift
Lifting it just enough to see the bottom.
“5-3-Franko-2-Charlie-1- Alpha–3-3” Blurting the serial number as fast as my breath would allow me.
“Got it.” more ruffling of papers.
Easy now, put it down
I lowered the case, my breath trapped until it was safely back on the table.
“Ummm … What color is the button?”
“Alriiight … What’s written on the button?”
“O.K., press it and let go immediately.”
That sounds mad!
“It specifically says “HOLD” The logic behind the commands made absolutely no sense to me.
“Hey, I need you to trust me O.K? Now, Press … It … and … Let … GO … IMMEDIATELY.”
“Here goes nothing.”
My innards turned to jelly as my finger hovered over the button. I shut my eyes pushed the button and let go as soon as I heard a small click. Another light turned green.
I placed both hands on the worn out table, needing every ounce of support.
“We’re almost there.”
I glanced over at the timer, my eyes widen to the realization.
“Ummm, we have just over a minute left.”
“We have one more. What do you see?”
I wipe my forehead with the back of my hand. My eyes going in and out of focus.
This is the last one.
“Four buttons, with four symbols.”
I hear the frantic ruffle of pages turning over the speakers.
“Hurry,” I watched the seconds fly away.
“O.K., O.K., got it, you have to press them in a specific order. Can you describe the symbols?”
I squinted to see through the sweat stinging my eyes.
“I’ve got a circle with a dot in the center, an upside-down question mark, something that looks like a fork aaaaand this really weird one, looks like Cthulhu.”
“Cthulhu? Can you elaborate on what Cthulu looks like?”
“It’s like … a ….. a stick figure, but with a triangular head and three legs, holding a long stick thingie”
“GOT IT, so circle, weird one, fork, and question mark.”
The beeps followed my fingers, as I made the sequence the last light turned green and the timer ceased to count back.
10 seconds to spare. The muscles of my body loosened and my blood turned cold. I kneeled on the cold concrete floor, tears streaming down my face.
The swoosh of the door opening filled my heart with relief.
“I guess we did it, we’re free.”
“Umm, not quite,” the quiver in her tone clasped around my heart.
“What do you mean? The door opened!”
A woman poked her head through the doorway, thick-rimmed glasses perched on the beak of her nose. She held up a stack of papers.
“The door only links our rooms,”